30 years ago a unique village was born
THIRTY years have passed since renowned architect Peter McIntyre transformed a vacant area of land high in the Victorian Alps into arguably Australia’s most unique village – Dinner Plain.
“No one else has actually taken a greenfield site and built a whole 5000-bed village in Australia since the Gold Rush,” says McIntyre.
“It was a pretty unique project, so in my career it’s one of the most unique things I’ve done.”
An entire village of multipitched roofs supported by buildings of stone, wood and corrugated iron – and painted the colours of snow gums – blending harmoniously with the rugged beauty of the surrounding Alpine National Park.
It was an attempt to create an Australian alpine architectural identity, inspired by the cattlemen’s huts that sit above the snowline.
With each of these homes individually designed, McIntyre achieved something new in Australian architecture – a village with a sense of unity, but without repetitiveness.
“Now you get that in a European village of 400 or 500 years old, and it happened then because the materials were limited; they could only get materials that were avail- able to them within a short distance,” McIntyre explains.
“Everyone did their own building, so there were individual designs, but they all used the same material.”
In 1987, McIntyre won Australia’s top architecture award – the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Sir Zelman Cowen Medal – for the design of Dinner Plain Alpine Village.
He was awarded the RAIA Gold Medal for his life’s work three years later in 1990.
The first building – the Dinner Plain Hotel – opened on June 8, 1986, with some display homes opening soon after.
Dinner Plain has since developed into a popular winter escape, and the Dinner Plain Hotel continues to be a mustdo pub stop along the Great Alpine Road.
McIntyre designed the Master Plan for Dinner Plain and the individual houses on the eastern side of the village.
Development of the western side, while retaining much of the key guidelines of the plan, has allowed various architects to put their stamp on McIntyre’s vision.
McIntyre will be a guest of honour at the Dinner Plain 30th Anniversary Gala Dinner at the Dinner Plain Hotel on Sunday night.
STARTING OUT: The first open for inspection day in Dinner Plain. Peter McIntyre (blue hat) John Castran (green jumper) and Helen Grant (kneeling in navy). The three were key figures in Dinner Plain’s development and Mr Castran continues to have a big presence in the village today. On this day they were unloading a trailer of goods to furnish the first two display houses on the site - Wattle Circle and Jacky Johnson. They came across a chap practising his bagpipes (his wife couldn’t stand the noise and he had gone to Dinner Plain to practice). They laughed and sang for half an hour. The other people in the photo were a family just out for a drive.